Are you an award winning wedding photographer? Some of the world’s best wedding photographers are listed in directories of a small number of professional associations. These have become synonymous with great wedding photography, and conduct periodic contests in various categories of wedding photography. The award winning wedding photographers are often able to build very successful international careers as a result of the exposure they receive out of these awards. Nevertheless, most of the wedding photographers who are listed on these online platforms are yet to win any award. We wanted to know what this really means, and whether Indian photographers should consider memberships on these websites.
International award winning wedding photographers
Some of the best-known organizations are WPJA (Wedding Photojournalist Association), ISPWP (International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers), and Fearless Photographers. These are more than a simple directory of photographers. They provide online galleries and links to the photographer’s website, features a highly-regarded photo contest, and allow members to post articles and Real Weddings on their blog. Considering that many business advisors recommend that at least 10% of your revenue should be budgeted for marketing expense, exploring the option of becoming a member on these platforms is definitely something to consider.
The eligibility to become a member in these associations can be tough. Many of these websites have a high membership fee. Becoming a member of ISPWP, the photographer must have shot at least 50 weddings, submit a portfolio for review, agree to the ISPWP Code of Conduct, and have a member sponsor, then be voted in by current members. Sounds like a mammoth task. Right? We spoke to founding members of these associations and photographers to get their view on benefits of these associations.
Joe Milton, a photographer himself, started ISPWP almost a decade back, to bridge the gap between photographers and their target audience. He says, ‘The ISPWP contest results and year-end “best-of” list are shared by many online blogs and news outlets such as the Huffington Post, USA Today, ABC News, Daily Mail, Buzz feed, and many more.’ The ISPWP also offers cash and product prizes for its contests. The ISPWP Spring contest has over $5,000 in cash and prizes available to the members. It provides SEO (Search Engine Optimization) advantages so that brides doing google searches can find the photographers. Links from the organization’s site will have high authority so the photographers’ websites will rank higher in their own organic search results.
While the membership fee and time to be invested appear high, Joe is of the opinion that the membership benefits in the long run. ‘Our dues have remained at $179/year for many years, which is only $14.92 per month. That includes $250 worth of free contest entries per year, potential exposure at many top blogs and news outlets, unlimited posting on the ISPWP blog, and members can also save hundreds of dollars with our exclusive vendor and product discounts. The members can also win up to $5,000 in cash and prizes for our quarterly contests.’ he says.
Huy Nguyen, founder of Fearless Photographers has to add something more than business proposition, ‘Find good communities and good people to be with. It’s like having good friends. They can help inspire to greater achievements and awareness. And as a business, you have to spend money on advertising to be visible to potential clients. It’s a part of the wedding photography business’. Fearless Photographers has more than 3000 members and also organizes events for raising money for environment charities.
Award Winning Wedding Photographers
Susana Barbera, a wedding photographer based out of Spain, is a member of Fearless Photographers and loves the photography community there. She says that unlike many other associations, it has relatively easier membership criteria. This also helps beginners to shine.
Franck Boutonnet, a wedding photographer is a member of ISPWP, Fearless, WPJA and WPS. He has won over 200 awards and it has allowed him to travel throughout the world for various conferences and workshops and has helped expanding his clients base. However, he says if you want desired return of investment on the membership, you have to keep winning awards.
Juyá Gentil was Fearless Photographer of the Year (2015). For Juyá, these associations have brought excellent opportunity to shoot international weddings, which he could not have imagined otherwise. He too recommends winning contests to make the membership profitable for oneself.
Winning Awards Is The Name Of The Game! Yes or No?
Nitin Dangwal is an Indian destination wedding specialist. He is a member of four of these organisations, but his association with Fearless Photographer is the oldest. Nitin believes that being a member of these platforms helped him gain credibility. He has already won 2 awards in just two years, and says that the associations are important platforms to gauge oneself as a photographer. Prithu De, another wedding photographer based out of India, simply loves the powerful designed website of Fearless Photographers. He strongly recommends it to the photography community in India to be at par with the international industry. “Establishing a brand takes time and photographers should think of becoming a member only if they have a long-term plan to be in the industry. Otherwise, it can be discouraging.”
To conclude, it seems that the investment of membership can be worthwhile only if you use it wisely. The best advice, coming across from all the award winning wedding photographers we spoke with, is that submitting and winning competitions is probably the best thing to do to rank higher, and get full benefits of the membership.
We would love to hear from you in the comments below. Are you a member of any of the above mentioned associations? What was your experience so far?